The Arkansas Department of Education and Department of Health have released new guidance for schools regarding isolation and quarantine for students and staff who either have COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who is positive. As required, the Sheridan School District will begin implementing the new rules, effective immediately.
The new rules include a number of changes. Among the most significant is that the length of quarantine and isolation status has changed. Isolation is required for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. This person is required to stay home for at least 5 days. If they have no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving after 5 days, they can leave their house (return to school). They must continue to wear a mask around others through the 10th day of isolation. There are no exceptions. If they are unable to wear a mask for any reason, they should complete a full 10-day quarantine/isolation.
Close contacts who must quarantine should stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days after their last contact with a person who has COVID-19. They should wear a well-fitting mask through the 10th day after contact with a person who has COVID-19. If they are unable to wear a mask, they should continue to quarantine for 10 days. They should monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms occur, they should self-isolate and get tested.
The Sheridan School District has a large supply of masks that are available to students upon request. Masks range from medical grade provided by the state to cloth masks donated or purchased by the district and will be available while supplies last. Students should contact their school nurse or front office if they need/want a mask.
In order for a close contact age 18 or older to be exempt from quarantine, the person should have completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, as well as a recommended booster shot if they are eligible. For close contacts ages 5-17 to be exempt, they must have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. No booster is needed for exemption for that age group. Any persons who have had confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days (PCR or antigen test) are exempt from quarantine following close contact.
An individual who has completed at least 5 full days of at-home isolation or quarantine may participate in activities provided they are able to properly mask during that activity for the remainder of the 10-day isolation or quarantine period. Please note that interscholastic athletic activities may be subject to additional health and safety protocols adopted by the Arkansas Activities Association.
Click here to view a slide presentation from the Department of Education that provides full details of the new quarantine/isolation guidance for schools.
Anyone with questions should contact their school’s front office or nurse’s office.